Drift Challenge Australia has done it! The first official drift event held on public roads. In the beautiful town of Mt Gambier, South Australia an event was about to take place like no other!
One that would leave a mark while also opening up new possibilities in the world of drift.
Luke Fink has picked one of the most stunning venues to hold a street drift competition. Lake Valley is located just next to a well known tourist spot that is a crater from a volcano “Blue Lake.” It is such a cool location with the lake just near the pits and lookouts right around the venue.
With a full three days of drifting on the hill spectators and the town of Mt Gambier had a great opportunity to see drifting for the first time in this area.
I arrived on the Saturday morning to find many cars in disrepair. With the track opening soon I was surprised that these cars were not being worked on. Kris Griffith had blown an engine on the Friday and was planing to do a full engine swap after drivers briefing! Remarkably he knocked it out of the park completing the job within four hours and was drifting the car just after lunch.
Stewy Bryant had a radiator leak in his green Cefiro on the Friday and spent the early morning re-installing the fixed radiator for Yoshinori to drive. Yoshinori heard that Luke Fink was running a street drift competition and he instantly booked a flight from Japan to come and compete against Australia’s best drifters.
Just like Initial D or an Option touge battle streams of highly modified Japanese cars were carving their way through the dense forest.
In the morning briefing drivers were instructed to not use their handbrake. The judges wanted to see full commitment with wide lines into the clipping points to allow the chase driver to get on door during the battles.
With drift practice on the Friday, qualifying on the Saturday and the main competition on the Sunday this gave drivers plenty of time to get used to the track.
The track conditions quickly started to change with light rain at first making the track really slippery. The one driver that was not fazed by the weather conditions was the local bus driver!
That’s right; along with 500kw monsters going sideways down the hill was the local bus route. Every thirty minutes the track action would stop to let a bus through; this is something I have never seen before and may never see again on a track.
The technical layout of this street course combined an up hill section with a steep down hill into the largest corner of the layout at the end of the track. The elevation changes and the tight track all combined to create a drift course that requires full commitment from the driver. Any mistakes and a driver could see himself bouncing rail to rail bumper bowling his way down the hill.
Bus loads of people kept arriving despite the rain as nobody was going to miss the wet and wild action. Many drivers struggled in the wet weather condition not being able to get traction. Not being able to get into third gear meant that a lot of drivers had to stick to ringing out second gear.
After light rain and a brief bit of sun it suddenly poured down for the next 3 hours. The on track action had to be stopped for an hour so the flash flooding could drain off the track; just like the cricket we had to wait for the pitch to dry up.
Lots of media had turned out to see Australia’s first street drift event! The small army of orange vests i.e. the media could be seen recording every moment and when their real cameras ran out of batteries they resorted to using their phones, not wanting to miss a second of the action.
Despite being told not to use their handbrakes the drivers were forced to use them, because of the weather and track conditions, just so they could get around the track safely.
By Sunday the weather had cleared up and it was business as usual. With the grip returning to the track the divers started to get comfortable and more confident as the day wore on.
With so many of Australia’s biggest names in drift fighting it out for a position in the top 32 it was hard to pick the top qualifier of the day. Many great drivers where knocked out of contention. Those who adapted to the ever changing track conditions found a spot in the top 32 with Blake Patterson taking the 1st place in qualifying.
A short practice season in the morning allowed the drivers to hone their skills before they were paired up in the battle tree for the top 32 competition.
The special guest driver for this round of DCA was Shinji Minowa. He is a well known driver from D1GP driving for TEAM POTENZA. We thank him for coming all the way from Japan to help make Drift Challenge Australia a memorable event.
For DCA Jason Ferron installed another turbo with a smaller front housing and larger exit. With a quick re-tune thanks to Chequered Tuning Jason was able to lift his torque and response which made a good difference against some of the best drifters in Australia.
Putting it all on the line takes a special breed of driver. One that is not afraid to sacrifice everything to get their hand raised and to step on the podium.
In typical DCA fashion every driver turned it up to 11! Sunday saw top 32 battles like no other! Luke Fink was literally screaming on the microphone in excitement because of the close intensity of the top 32 battles.
As the intensity of the competition rose the drivers started to suffer under the immense pressure causing numerous spins and unforced errors leaving some drivers with copious amounts of damage.
Two of our local heroes from Vic Drift were up against each other in one of the first battles. Jason Ferron and Moe Elhaouli really pushed the limits. Jason Ferron after qualifying 13th fought his way through mutable re-runs advancing himself all the way to the top 8. There were no easy battles!
A drivers performance tends to change under the pressure of competition. Those who drive well in practice often do not make it to the top 8. The Top 16 battles really shake the field apart until all that is left are four of the most talented drivers of the day.
It really all comes down to the final battle on the final day of competition. Who can keep up the concentration and focus to take the win.
In the end it came down to Joel Donegan and Blake Patterson. The days driving had taken a toll on both cars with Joel’s suffering from gearbox issues leaving him only with 2nd gear to compete in the final battle for 1st.
Blake Patterson was the undeniable winner of DCA- King Of The Hill! he qualified first and continued his amazing form the entire weekend.
After the victory burnouts there was enough time for a final expression session. This is where all the drivers are invited to use up there remaining tyres and go wild for the crowd.
Running drift trains of up to ten cars was really an amazing sight! To say this event was a success is an understatement. Luke Fink has proven time and time again if you bring the best drivers you get the best competition! He continues to break new ground in the drift community bringing a breath of fresh air to a sport that has needed a shake up for a long time.
Thanks for reading,